Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Lord It's the Ring Cycle Introduction

Lord It's the Ring Cycle Introduction

I'm doing something completely insane this week. I'm going to see the full Ring Cycle by Wagner. It's 4 nights of opera in 6 days.  I know there are people who do this sort of thing, Ring Groupies. At least that's what I've heard.  But I'm an opera novice who had a wild hare to try something new and easy as falling down stairs here I am.

My opera experience before this week has been seeing the Marriage of Figaro in grade school and Carmen when I was in college.  In North Carolina where I was a kid there was a group, the North Carolina Opera I suppose, who went around to schools and performed Figaro for classes.  Due to changing grades, changing schools and a few moves, I managed to see this presentation at least 4 times.  By 12, I was pretty much over the Marriage of Figaro.  The music was ok and all, but it was kind of boring.

I volunteered to be an usher in order to see Carmen by the Seattle Opera when I was in grad school.  It was cool and emotional and violent and beautiful, but what startled me the most, the "duh" moment, was the realization that they call soap operas "operas" for a reason.  It was so melodramatic, so over the top.  I had in my mind that "opera" was for cultured folk with refined tastes who wanted to listen to some lovely singing for a few hours, clap politely, and head out for an expensive and late dinner, probably involving a Salad Nicose and subdued conversation about mutual funds.

But Carmen was crazy! Carmen was bullfighters battling over whores and blood in the streets and barely anyone left standing to sing the final act.  Why didn't the NC Opera bring THIS to our school?  I guarantee there would have been significantly more long term interest in opera from North Carolina school children.

But, even though I thought Carmen was cool, I somehow didn't get around to seeing more opera.  I had season tickets to the ballet for a while, and then I switched to season tickets for the 5th Ave, which does Broadway Musicals, and then I didn't have season tickets to anything.

Then a few months ago I heard an add on the radio that Seattle Opera was doing The Ring Cycle.  And I thought you know, I'm 4++ years old and I've been hearing about This Ring Cycle my whole life.  As a kid, I was quite fond of the Bugs Bunny Ring Cycle.  Then in college it started to come up in conversation about historical context, Nazis and what have you.  And I was witness to more than one conversation about The Ring Cycle and derivative-ism and whether everyone from Tolkien to George Lucas stole from Wagner.

I began to believe I understood what the Ring Cycle was, even though I'd never seen it.  But, the older I get, them more I realize it's important to keep learning, and The Ring Cycle sits on the same shelf as Russian Novels as "Things I keep Meaning to Get To".

So I went to the Seattle Opera page to see about tickets. And they were INSANELY EXPENSIVE. $600 - $1100 range I recollect.  I was a bit dumbfounded.  I ranted about it on Facebook, because that's what Facebook is for, and assumed my Ring dreams were over. Imagine my shock a week later when a colleague called me at work to say that someone who'd seen my post mentioned it to her and hey, she just happened to have an extra set of tickets!  Suddenly Insanely Expensive became a much more manageable "Not Cheap but Reasonable".

I agreed and then promptly forgot about it for several months, when I suddenly realize OH, that's happening. And it's happening soon. And it's happening ALL IN ONE WEEK!  What are you people crazy? Oh well. In for a penny.  In for the whole bag of crazy.

So, here begins my chronicle of the novice experiencing the Ring.  Each post will discuss the last night's Episode.  I'll let you know, since it's all coming as a surprise to me, just what this story is about. I'll also try to weigh my preconceived notions on scales of 1-10.  I will break Godwin's Law and include a Nazism scale, as well as a "Surprise Plagiarism Scale", which will measure how much The Ring reminds me of cultural touchstones with which I'm familiar (in other words, damn, So & So TOTALLY stole that from Wagner).

So sit back with a bag of chips (No salad Nicose!) and enjoy the ride.  

1 comment:

Julie said...

Wagner is not my thing, but if it's yours, YOU GO GIRL! :)

My favorite Ring is Anna Russell's synopsis. You can listen to it here:

Or read the transcript here: http://www.markelliswalker.net/music/albums/anna-russell-ring.html

She's hilarious. :)